Friday, January 21, 2011

2002 Primarily A Year For Repeat Champions in the All Iowa Points

I am now halfway through my “research project” of closing the gap from when I stopped compiling the All Iowa Points in 1999 to when I resumed in 2006 with the completion of the 2002 season. This one went pretty fast as much of the spring schedule that year was washed away by weather, although the point totals by the top drivers still reflect a pretty full season of action. Once again I want to thank my colleague Barry Johnson for the use of his Hawkeye Racing News archives to do this project and it was fun to read the columns of another colleague Ryan Clark as 2002 was his first year as editor of HRN.

This was a season of repeat champions as six of the eight divisions saw the same driver as the year before wind up on the top of the points list.

After overtaking Rob Toland late to win the 2001 All Iowa Points Late Model championship, Denny Eckrich dueled it out with Todd Cooney through July before pulling away late to take his second straight state title. Eckrich only captured five checkered flags on the season, but his forty-four top-five finishes were thirteen more than any other Late Model driver in 2002. With fourteen feature wins Cooney claimed the IMCA Late Model championship that year and finished second in the All Iowa Points. Jeff Aikey and Tommy Elston tied for third in the final standings while eight-time champion Gary Webb filled out the top five. It should be noted that a driver who did not even race weekly in the state finished in the seventh spot. 2002 was definitely a breakout season for Brian Birkhofer, one that was topped off when he passed Scott Bloomquist on the final lap to win the World 100 at Eldora Speedway. Birky had plenty of success in his native state as well winning thirteen races on Iowa soil all paying $5,000 or more. We often see national stars in the top ten of the All Iowa Points in the 410 Sprint Car division, but never in the Late Models until this year.

Dubuque’s Ron Barker was dominant in 2002 winning weekly races and special events throughout the region including the debut of the World Dirt Racing League for Modifieds. On All Iowa Points paying tracks Barker garnered fifty-two top-five finishes including thirty-one feature wins easily giving his third straight, and fifth overall AIP Modified title. Sioux City area drivers Chad Waples and Jay Noteboom had great seasons with thirteen and eighteen wins respectively, but they were a distant second and third to Barker in the final rundown. Last year’s (2001) runner-up Brad Pinkerton finished in the fourth position while Troy Cordes closed out the year in fifth.

The Pro Stock/Limited Late Model division was one of two that did see a new champion in 2002 although the title did stay in the Dubuque for the fourth time in a row. Jeff Tharp scored eleven feature wins and passed mid-season leader Andy Eckrich to take his first AIP championship. With a win at the Yankee Dirt Track Classic Eckrich forged a tie with Ty Kleiner for the runner-up position, defending champion Dan Shelliam ended up fourth while western Iowa competitor Mike Collins completed the top five.

It was déjà vu all over again in the Stock Car ranks as Jeff Anderson and Brian Blessington recovered from a slow start due to the spring weather and then forged their way to the front leaving early season leader Mark Elliott in their wake. In the end it took a top five finish at the Fall Challenge in Webster City for Anderson to edge ahead of Blessington by five points to win his third straight All Iowa Points Stock Car Championship. We know that Blessington won the title in 2006 and 2007 so it will be interesting to see if these two keep a lock on it for ’03, ’04 and ’05 as well. Anderson scored twenty-one wins on AIP tracks in ’02 while Blessington picked up fourteen checkered flags on the season. With eighteen feature wins Elliott finished third, Tom Schmitt became a force in northeast Iowa and took fourth while southeast Iowa’s Jeremy Miller logged some miles on the hauler to finish in the fifth position.

There were plenty of dominant drivers at different tracks in the Hobby Stock division during 2002, but for the third straight year, and for the fourth time overall, nobody was more dominant than Kris Walker. Forty-six top-fives including twenty-eight feature wins vaulted the Oskaloosa driver to the top of the All Iowa Points list once again, only eight points ahead of northern Iowa’s Shane Monson. This was Monson’s second straight runner-up finish in the standings as he racked up twenty-six feature victories on the season. Bill Bonnet was fifth the year before and improved to third in 2002, while Andy Boeckman and Darrin Walch completed the top five.

Defending champion Ed Green went to the top early and ran away with his second straight Limited Modified AIP title scoring twenty-five feature wins along the way. Green’s top competitor Todd Hansen of Clear Lake finished second, a newcomer to the division in 2002 Al Johnson tied with Keokuk’s Chris Larson for third while another division rookie Doug McCollough wound up fifth.

Terry McCarl was once again in control of the 410 Sprint chase from start to finish as he tallied his fifth straight All Iowa Points championship. This now gives T-Mac eight All Iowa Points titles (1994, 1996, 1998-2002 and 2009) tying him with Gary Webb and Ed Sanger for the most ever in any division. Chances are pretty good that McCarl will win another one or two, either in the remaining three seasons that I have to re-construct, or here in real time. Chad Meyer was a distant second in the 2002 points chase, Knoxville Nationals winner Steve Kinser finished third with Justin Henderson and Don Droud Jr. next in line.

Young Clint Garner exploded onto the scene late in 2001 and then posted impressive numbers in 2002 with seventeen feature wins and his first All Iowa Points 360 Sprint championship. Micah Schliemann, Gordy Vogelaar and Matt Spies were next in line while two-time defending champion Jake Peters was fifth.

It should be noted that results for tracks such as East Moline, Quincy and Eagle were rarely included in the paper during the 2002 season showing once again that the All Iowa Points are only as accurate as they can be given the results provided to the media by the tracks.

A full rundown of the 2002 All Iowa Points can be found on the Points page at

Now it is time to move on to 2003, a season that will become the first year to compile the points for the Four Cylinder division. My goal is to have this one completed before the first green flag waves on the 2011 racing season here in the Midwest.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Auburn 22 Oregon 19

So how stupid does this guy sound now?

Or this one?

Fun game to watch although nowhere near the number of points that many expected. I'm bummed though that Tulsa coach Todd Graham is now headed to Pittsburgh. Okay, college football is over, now let's get to racing season as soon as possible!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

All Iowa Points For 2001 Now Complete

My “research project” of closing the gap from when I stopped compiling the All Iowa Points in 1999 to when I resumed in 2006 took another step this past week when I completed the 2001 season. Once again I want to thank my colleague Barry Johnson for the use of his Hawkeye Racing News archives to do this project.

The 2001 Late Model race was a good one with Rob Toland (“future” champion in 2006 & 2007) leading through most of the season before a late flurry by Denny Eckrich earned the Coralville driver his first All Iowa Points championship. With sixteen feature wins and thirty-seven “top-five finishes” Eckrich edged out Toland, who also had sixteen wins, by just six points. Jeff Aikey was not far back in third, eight-time and defending champion Gary Webb finished fourth while Darrel DeFrance completed the top five. The Pro Stock champion from the year before, Jeremiah Hurst, finished in the sixth position, Gary Russell and Joe Kosiski tied for seventh while Quincy regulars Terry Schlipman and Mark Burgtorf rounded out the top ten.

In the Modified chase Dubuque’s Ron Barker broke away from the pack in July and cruised to his second straight and fourth overall AIP title. Barker picked off eighteen feature wins on All Iowa Points paying tracks and he had eleven more top five finishes (50) than any other Modified driver. A rookie in the division, Brad Pinkerton of New Sharon, won fifteen features and edged out Bob Dominacki (1983 Street Stock Champion) by three points to finish in the second spot. Sioux City’s Ricky Stephan was another three points behind Dominacki in fourth while Darin Duffy rounded out the top five.

With the defending champion Hurst stepping up to Late Models, the Pro Stock/Limited Late Model chase was wide open and it was Hazel Green, Wisconsin, driver Dan Shelliam who scored the championship with ten wins and twenty-seven top fives. Shelliam’s chief rival at Farley and Dubuque, Jeff Tharp, finished in the second spot while Jeff Franck of Winthrop finished third. Omaha drivers Leon Zeitner and Jody Krug completed the top five.

The Stock Car race saw the same two drivers on top of the chart with Jeff Anderson taking his second All Iowa Points championship while future champ (2006 & 2007) Brian Blessington was the runner-up. The point spread decreased significantly though from 95 in 2000 to just 19 in 2001. Anderson racked up twenty-one feature wins on his way to the 2001 championship while Blessington tallied sixteen victories. Scott Carlson was amazing running the Pro-Am division in western Iowa and eastern Nebraska as he won twenty-six times and finished fourth once to take third in the final point standings. Northeast Iowa driver Kevin Bidne finished fourth while southeast Iowa’s Brant Fuhs was fifth.

Kris Walker won the 1999 All Iowa Points Hobby Stock championship, slipped to fourth in 2000, and then returned to the top in 2001 for his second AIP title. Walker picked up twenty feature wins on the season to propel him to a 25-point edge on runner-up Shane Monson. Damon Murty finished in the third spot, Steve Holthaus drove the big block in for fourth while central Iowa competitor Bill Bonnett wound up fifth.

Two drivers from Garner topped the Limited Modified list in 2001 as Ed Green captured the AIP title ahead of Lance Gardner. Green’s eleven feature wins and thirty-two top-fives gave him a sixteen-point edge over Gardner. Defending champion Larry Cook settled for third, Brian Wendel of Clarence was fourth while Gary Dreyer, who piloted his car using hand controls, finished fifth.

The two sprint car divisions were diversely different as the race in the 410’s was pretty much decided at the end of April while the 360’s went down to the final race of the year. Terry McCarl dominated once again in the 410’s scoring twice as many points as runner-up Don Droud Jr. McCarl scored fifteen feature wins as part of his thirty-two top-five finishes on his way to his fourth straight, and now seventh (and counting) All Iowa Points championship. World of Outlaw stars Danny Lasoski and Mark Kinser finished third and fourth while Dennis Moore Jr. completed the top five. In the 360’s, a victory on the final weekend of September at the Jackson Speedway gave Jake Peters his second straight AIP championship by just one point over Randy Martin. Matt Spies was just two points from the top in third, 1995 AIP Hobby Stock Champion John Schulz was fourth and Bobby Mincer filled out the top five.

A full rundown of the 2001 All Iowa Points can be found on the Points page at

With the research on 2001 now complete, I have moved on to 2002 and since most of the early season events were lost to weather that year I am already into mid-June. Just like this past year (2010) when tracks like Boone and Algona escaped the rain and ran every week while others lost several shows, there were a few tracks that somehow avoided the early season cancellations in 2002 and that may have an interesting effect on the outcome of that year although right now it looks like we will have several repeat champions. As of mid-June Denny Eckrich is looking to repeat his Late Model title, Ron Barker leads the Modifieds while Jeff Anderson and Brian Blessington are playing catch up in the Stock Cars with Mark Elliott out front. Kris Walker leads Shane Monson and Darrin Walch in the Hobby Stocks while Ed Green is back on top in the Limited Mods. Terry McCarl is the man to beat again in the 410’s and Clint Garner holds a big lead in the 360’s.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Images From Days Gone By....

Let's warm up the offseason a bit by looking back at some photos from the early to mid-1990's when I fashioned myself as a photographer. A big thanks to my partner Barry Johnson for scanning these old prints in for me, and these are just a few of the twenty-five that have just been added to the PositivelyRacing page on Facebook. So if you'd like to see them all, and more, become a follower of the site on Facebook.

 Ron Gustaf and Todd Bennett

 Scott Hogan and Toby Scharp

Ace Ihm